Verizon Forced To Briefly Give A Damn About Its Neglected Broadband Networks

from the almost-accountability dept

Several years back Verizon paused all serious residential fiber deployment to shift its focus to slinging video ads at Millennials, an effort that isn’t going all that well. While Verizon was busy attempting to pivot from stodgy protectionist telecom monopoly to sexy new media brand, one of its core legacy businesses (fixed line broadband) was simply allowed to wither and die on the vine. As such, the company has spent the last few years bombarded with complaints up and down the east coast about how it neglected repairs and upgrades across a massive swath of its telecom empire.

One one hand, Verizon’s disinterest in residential broadband has resulted in a growing cable broadband monopoly as frustrated users flee to their only option for current-generation speeds. That in turn results in less competitive pressure than ever, resulting in higher prices, worse service, and the slow but steady deployment of arbitrary and punitive usage caps across the board. Meanwhile, customers on aging DSL lines who stick with Verizon face repair delays and higher prices as Verizon literally tries to drive away customers it simply no longer has a genuine interest in serving.

Despite the fact that many of these lines were taxpayers subsidized, occasionally Verizon’s behavior results in something vaguely resembling a wrist slap. Case in point: after highlighting the massive state of disrepair of Verizon’s network in New York, the Communications Workers of America this week managed (with the help of the NY Public Service Commission) to force Verizon to upgrade a notable chunk of its neglected networks across the state. An announcement by the CWA notes that Verizon not only has to repair neglected infrastructure, but expand real, fiber broadband in New York City:

“In a big victory for New York consumers, the Communications Workers of America has reached a settlement with Verizon that will require the company to repair 54 central offices across the state, replace bad cable, defective equipment, faulty back-up batteries, and to take down 64,000 double telephone poles. The agreement also includes increased broadband buildout to major apartment buildings in New York City and more than 30,000 homes across the state.”

That last bit is of particular note, given that New York recently sued Verizon for taking taxpayer subsidies for fiber deployments only partially completed, something that’s also an undeniable trend for the telecom giant. As they did in Pennsylvania, the union simply had to share photos showcasing the abysmal disrepair across Verizon’s network, part of a three-year effort to hold the company accountable:

“The settlement is the result of a CWA campaign to pressure the New York Public Service Commission (PSC) to require Verizon to upgrade and repair the legacy telephone network and to expand consumer access to broadband. In 2015, CWA, 20 allied organizations, and 70 legislators filed a request for an investigation, providing substantial documentation of Verizon?s failure to maintain its copper network. In April 2016, the PSC opened a formal proceeding with extensive discovery and evidence collection. CWA and Verizon agreed to a settlement, which has been endorsed by the PSC staff. The PSC must approve the final settlement.”

Granted in most states, Verizon has so much political power that complaints about failing infrastructure or subsidized-yet-unfinished deployments have been largely ignored. Verizon’s response has generally been to make fun of these users, or promise them that wireless broadband will somehow make all of these concerns moot– ignoring that the company’s wireless network is more expensive, frequently unavailable, and often less robust than the fixed, taxpayer-subsidized infrastructure it’s supposed to be replacing.

Filed Under: , , ,
Companies: communications workers of america, cwa, verizon

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Verizon Forced To Briefly Give A Damn About Its Neglected Broadband Networks”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Oblate (profile) says:

I used to have DSL from Verizon. It was ok until Fios went in, then they clearly didn’t spend another cent on DSL maintenance. I have Fios now, as do 90% of my neighbors. “Still better than Comcast” seems to be their motto. It’s all installed underground here, so haven’t had some of the problems experiences elsewhere. The biggest problem I’ve had is that the connection would die randomly, several times a day, for several minutes. Finally found the problem- their DNS server was offline. Switched everything to use Google DNS ( and and the problem disappeared. Given their record with DSL and Fios maintenance I’m very reluctant to trust them with wireless service.

Anonymous Coward says:

"Current generation" is highly subjective

as frustrated users flee to their only option for current-generation speeds

Funny, I didn’t think there was a substantial deployment of "current-generation speed" capability anywhere in the US. 😉 The cable companies might not be as far behind on their upgrades as Verizon is, but they’re still well behind where they would be if they had been pursuing a decent upgrade schedule for the last 15 years.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: "Current generation" is highly subjective

Verizon has Fios in some areas, and 940/880 Mbit/s speeds available in newer deployments. Those are current-generation speeds (well, maybe getting a bit stale by other countries’ timelines–they might be getting to 10G by the time we widely deploy this). Probably the cost is very high by foreign standards.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...